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The AMIS Aboriginal Community

Visual Grammar/ literacy/ intelligence K1802503 Wei Chen (Vivi)

DE 7400 Project Background and Brief

" The visual tools, signs and symbols employed in visual communication are drawn from ancient history. We depend on visual icons to identity our business, social media account, subcultural group, brand value, ideological allegiance or location. The meaning of core symbols may be global (circle=moon/sun/eye) but most are arbitrary and open to new meanings, as semiotic theory has demonstrated (Saussure, Peirce, Eco). An understanding of visual grammar (the role of form, colour, shape), visual literacy (how to create effective visual messages and ‘read’ them), and intelligence (how to re-draw, re-define, re-position visual signs for new contexts of meaning) is therefore essential to the role of graphic designer." DE7400 guildance (2019)

The community that I choose in the project.

The Amis Aboriginal Community Identity, the word appeared so often in my head while I was choosing the project topic, it seems like I am also trying to find my own identity during the process. Then, my thoughts soon came to the place where I was born and raised, so I tried to find out the original characteristics of this land. And, basing on the group which existing in the land from the earliest times, the Amis aboriginal group has occurred in my mind.

I am interested in this community, because we grew up in the same land, however, we have some dif ferent cultures and traditions, many visions appeared in my mind whenever I think of the community, so this makes me want to explore further about this charming Amis aboriginal community also share them to people. My aims in the project is to make my target audience have more understanding of the culture that constitutes Taiwan by exploring the roots of the land, and find a sense of identity with it.

Discover stage



WORKSHOP In the first part o f t h e wo r k s h o p, we were asked to choose words and use the geometric shapes to do exercises.

Aggressive Honor The words that I choose are aggressive. In the exercise, I used sharp angles to ex p r e s s t h e wo r d s . A n d the inspiration point from the workshop is I had seen classmates destroy the shapes that we been given, and it made the shapes have more possibilities to develop the meaning.

In the second part, it was a teamwork exe r c i s e , w e u s e "earth" be our topic, and try to express it one a roll of the white paper. We think the earth starts from ashes, b i r t h a n d b a c k to ashes.

Ashes Multiple








Research and identify a community of your choice. What makes the community unique? H o w to v i s u a l l y i d e n t i f y t h i s uniqueness of the community?

My mind map when I am choosing the community.







The Amis Aboriginal Community Amis, the biggest aboriginal community in Taiwan. Population of Amis community is about 200,000 members.

I use the image to show that they are mainly distributed in the eastern and southern parts of Taiwan. They do have their own language. The announcements system on the train will increase the Amis language if you are on the train which is passing through Hualian to Jhihben .


Own language / own family name (which is different to the mandarin name) Ex. 江 義 林 Mandrain Name : Jiang Yi Lin Amis Name : Mayaw Dongi

Harvest Festival The Harvest Festival is an important ritual of the Ami people, it is usually held between July and September each year. Here are some images which took from others show the activities about the harvest festival.




5. Spirit about the harvest festival The leaders will lead the people to thank the gods for their blessings, urge the people to unite in harmony, and celebrate.

Patterns & Costumes Li-chun Lee (2016) analyses and separates the Amis patterns into two kinds, abstract patterns, and concrete patterns.


Abstract patterns These patterns are often appear on pottery, wood carving, painting and clothes in Amis culture.



Mother's love



Wave Harmony between Nature and Human Beings.




Concrete Patterns These patterns usually come from sun, nature and portraits.

Pattern from sun

Pattern from nature







Pattern from portrait





Patterns & Costumes Costumes (one of identify mark) There will be some difference between different tribes, different ages, gender and status.

The images show different mainly colors are used by different area.

Area North area: red, white and black will be the main colors. South area: black, maroon, yellow, green, red and orange.





> S

Taidong area (South side)

Hualian area (North side) 19.

Accessories Headwear/ Pataliyuca (Aims)


Shawl/ Alsaysay(Aims)


21. Lover Bag/ Alufu (Aims)




We brought an object which has connect with the community , and use it as a starting point to do the experiments.



Visual Experiment

The images is the experiments which related to Amis community research, trying with different ways, such as digital, sketching......etc.

Peers and tutor's feedback: Need to go further and explore more possibility. I can try more materials o n t h e ex p e r i m e n t s , such as play around with textures , sense of touching, 3D modules.


Define stage


Visual Messages


The Amis community's 30 characteristics.



- Natural skin tone

- Wood carving - Dancing - Singing - Good at sport

Background - Biggest aboriginal group - over 200,000 members - Mountain - Original - Amis native language - Tribe - Hualian (location) - East part - Sun - Harvest festival - Vital capacity - Holding hand - Status


Personality - Passion - Optimistic

Clothes - Colorful - Embroidery - Traditional clothes - Accessories - Fabric - Sew - Pattern

- Millet wine - Rice cake - Roast wild boar

Amis community is like a root/ sun/ nest. (Noun) Amis community is unity/ optimistic/ original/ warmth. (Adj.) Amis community can dance/ sing/ make tribal costumes/ bring multi-culture. (Verd)

Textual research " Men, women and children of all ages participate, gathering hand-in-hand in large circles. Thousands wearing beautiful tribal costumes dance and sing in the native language of the Amis tribe. Under the hot, July sun, they give thanks to the plentiful harvest of millet. They also bless the abundant catch of the local fishermen. The locals enjoy continuous celebration, and it’s celebration with purpose. The village leaders organize festival activities that promote respect, gratitude and unity. It is a time to immerse themselves in their Indigenous culture experiences, and to express their own modern flavor during their performances. What is the significance of the Amis Harvest Festival? First, visitors can experience authentic Indigenous culture in Taiwan, participating in ceremonies that have been performed for hundreds of years. Without the Harvest Festival, many of the Amis communities would not have the opportunity to pass down many of the important customs to the younger generations. The Amis rely on the event as one of the few times during the year when their entire community can reunite and strengthen their familial bonds. It is a time for the spirits of the ancestors to be honored and old traditions to renewed. Without the Amis Festival, Taiwan would lose a colorful portion of its multi-cultural heritage." By Tony Coolidge (Artical from Cultural Survival website.)

The key words that I highlight, I think these words can help me get more details in Amis visual grammar.

Hand-in-hand Large circle Tribal costumes Native Language Harvest of millet

Continuous Respect Gratitude Unity Indigenoud culture

Pass down Strengthen Hornored Old traditions Renewed

Three positive messages


Amis believe the sun gave birth to the earth, just like the mother. Here are some words that I think they have connetion with the first messages.

Heartbeat Mother Sun Birth

Babies and heartbeats are the two things come into my mind when I think of birth, so the image is I try to put the two elemnts together. This one is combined with mother and sun.


Passing down the Amis culture to the new generation. Movement Wave Pass down Catch

3Harmony and unity from the Amis spirit. Unity Indivisual

My starting point in the message is: As people say, " Gathering together like a burning fire, Scattering around like the glimmering galaxy. " So I use geometric shapes and try to express, circles can be isolated as an individual part, also they are part of the square, the square means a group. And then, base on the ideas, I tried to use graphic principles and color to do the exploration.

Reflection and feedback In the week of trying to make the images that can express my three messages, I feel confused and came out with questions. People don’t familiar with my community, how can they understand the messages what I am trying to convey? The outcomes can’t just be eyecatching, they should have meaning, then, how can you balance with it? After the hand-in and presentation, I would say I confused still, but I got many useful ideas to help me go further. Tutor said the outcome that I made this week almost lose the elements from my community, they are like the new things. I should go back to the first stage of research, analyzing the information again, then explore from the interesting parts, because the outcome that I made this week almost lose the elements from my community, they are like the new things.


O5 Interim Review According to the feedback from the last we e k , I a n a l y z e d my research and separated the elements into group to find out similarity point between them.

Pattern Costume







Pattern Costume

Geometric shapes Sun Patterns Dancing Patterns Face/ Portrait Color

Geometric shapes

Sun Patterns



Dancing Patterns

Face/ Portrait







35 39 43 36



Pattern Costume

Color Accessories

Texture Material











Texture/ Material Embroidery Knit Fluffy There will be some difference between different tribes, ages, gender and status.

Ball of yarn 53




Flower Pattern




58 56



Flower Pattern Embroidery

Visual grammar I try to find out what is the visual grammar from the characteristics of Amis. And the process from photography to abstract pattern.


>Colorful >Tribal costume >Personality >Passion >Optimistic





>Root >Birth >Mother




>Harvest festifal >Respect >Dancing >Gratitude >Holding hands >Unity >Reunite

>Pass down >Hornor >Spirits from the ancestors >Renew




My process on the project so far‌‌ I put most of time on the research and analysis the community currently, and I am going to move on to next part, more focus on visually exploration and communication, trying to find out more possibilities from original elements, and make a decision on the messages that I want to focus and find out a good visual way to convey the messages to my audiences.

What to do next? Visual experiments (Graphic principles) >Experiments from researching pictures without messages (Tw2 hw) promote >+messages >Narrow down the range of my research/messages that I want to focus(Patterns/ costumes/ colors) >Audience (Pass down the traditional culture to younger generation (In Amis) Know more about the culture/ multi-culture (To Public))

Develop stage


Target Audience Early Adulthood( Aged 2035), Taiwan residents, who knows about the Amis but unfamiliar with. Aims Protect the multi-cultural h e r i t a g e s i n Ta i w a n , passing down the culture to the new generation. Through…………..way. Message The Amis is the biggest indigenous group in Taiwan, also a root in this land (part of our land).

After discover and the define stages, it comes up with the development part, I feel struggle when I first enter the part, there are so many points from the previous research, how to select a few of them to focus? Also, my previous visual is too abstract to present my messages.

So, I talked to our tutor, a problem that she pointed out is there was still lots of ways can play with the visual that I h av e r e s e a r c h , I fe l t the struggle is because I was trying to build new images, however, they don’t relevant with my messages. The feedback from the tutor really helps me a lot, I found more confident in doing visual experiments. And I try to do the case study to find out what kinds of issues about the aboriginal group that other designers want to solve and what kind of messages and target audiences they want to convey and achieve.

Cases study 1. Aboriginal flag, 1971 By Harold Thomas

Thomas designed the flag in 1971 as a symbol of the Aboriginal land rights movement. In 1995 the flag was made an official "Flag of Australia". Black- Aboriginal people Yellow- the sun, giver of life Red-the earth


2. Canadian geographic By VincentDesign

He built a flag of aboriginal group, I think the issue that he try convey was too huge, and the case is more like in an art discipline, so the case didn’t help me.

Aim/ Brief: A balanced and respectful representation of Indigenous culture in Canada. Result: A logo with elements handing critical meaning for each group. 68

The way that they present visual languages are really clear, however, the messages and ideas that they want to present were too many and complex.


3. 米好!Malahok (Aboriginal Millet souvenir development design) By NUTC students


It’s a team of the student in Taiwan that they made the product design to sell and advocate aboriginal group in Taiwan, however, they didn’t choose a specific group, their elements of design is selected from many different groups. But, the outcome was really interesting, the used printing in mottled style and textile within the outcome to present the identity, the part did give me inspiration.

Main color: black, white, red Embroidery: Hand-made Traditional costume: color symbol Millet, hunting


Visual experiments

T h e v i s u a l ex p e r i m e n t s in the week are using the shape from the Amis pattern which appeared on woodcarving that I found them during the research stage, such as the face, dancing people, sun‌‌etc., I use digital software to play with the shapes.


Rearrange my project intention. Message The Amis aboriginal group is a community that combined with the spirit they believed and unique traditional culture.

Why I rearrange the main m e s s a g e s i s b e ca u s e I realize I should let my target audience get to know more about the Amis, that’s why I am more focus on describing what’s special part about the Amis in my current message.

Visual experiments The main colors that I choose are black, white and red, this comes from the traditional costume from the community.

Despite the community has separated in two feature, north and south sides, one is mainly using black, white and red; the other is more colorful, may have maroon, yellow, blue, green…etc., I select to use nor th sides as my project’s main color, because three colors are more specific, and the southside tribe also using these three colors.

Red Black White

The experiments that I made these pages is I trying to rearrange the pattern, and put them into rectangles (like the wood shape) or squares (like the flag shape).

People’s dancing feet

Try to add the movement/ action with unity elements in the images.

I put all the symbols crowed together to present unity.

Inspired by knitting, patterns created by imitating knitting techniques.

Used red knit wool and pins to create the images on the grid board.

A f t e r t h e w e e k’ s v i s u a l experiments, I realized that textile elements will give people touch feeling, and it is a proper way to convey the Amis’s identity. However, I still not really clear about what kind of format will be suitable to present the community.

In the week tutorial, I discussed the question with tutor, he gave me the advice which was “ about these kinds of topic and the target audience type, if you can make something that your target audience can experience with it, then it will be more interesting so won’t feel bored with the historical or texture information.” I totally like the idea, the touch feeling of the material play t h e i m p o r ta n t r o l e i n my visual part to present the Amis identity, so if my target audience can also touch it and have the experience, then they can be more impressible about the community during the Interactive process rather than just the plain paper.


Deliver stage

O8 The Target Audience: Early Adulthood ( A g e d 2 0 - 3 5 ) , Ta i w a n residents, who knows about the Amis but unfamiliar with.

The Aim: To make my target audience have more understanding of the culture that constitutes Taiwan by exploring the roots of the land, and find a sense of identity with it.

Main Messages: The Amis aboriginal group is a community that combined with the spirit they believed and unique traditional culture.

Outcome Physical outcome An experience pack with induction cards and sewing kits.

According to the ideas, I made my first version of the outcome, it was an experience pack. Where can the pack be used, my idea is it will be appeared in the stall which in the culture promotion activity. It will be someone to introduce how the pack can be used, and some decoration in the stall on the table, such as ball of yarn, embroidery pattern, as you can see in the below images took from myself.

There is a board in the images that I have done the test with. I sewed the grid on the fabric, pined it on the cork board, and used red, white and white knit wool to build the pattern, and I found it was interesting to do the pattern, it will be created the unique pattern based on how different people build it. Tutor also gave me a advice is about I can set some rules about the experience, and then the outcome which my target audience make will contain elements from the Amis, it was the reason why I still keep the grid on the board, not just on the draft one. In my outcome, I used it as my main idea to make an experience pack, it was an envelope and there was some induction cards , the grid card with a needle and knit wools be put inside, there was texts on the cards to convey the important point about the Amis.

1. Poster 2. Cock board 3. Pack 4.Introduction cards Why I replace a small cork board with the grid card is because card can let people sewing on it, and it is more simple as a teaching pack.

1. Envolope 2. Introduction cards 3. The grid card 4.Niddle 5. Knit wools

Test out the design with 5 audiences.

Fuyu: Can put more information about the Amis. The whole experience was fun and very engaging. Can introduce the meaning of totems during the demonstration.

Charlene: Good interactivity. If the totem itself is identity, you can apply this pattern to other things and make products for this group. Interaction itself is fun and participatory

Adam: A small photo of the Amis can be added to the cards to show the connection between the totem and the knitting and color of the costume.

Wanruo: Small packages are fun and interactive. The posters on the wall can be richer.

Vicky: The project is complete, and the introduction has a basic understanding of the group. There is content highlighting that the key message is unity. The mini-game of making totems does not feel connected to unity? Interaction itself is fun and participatory.


Second Version


After audience and tutor’s feedback, it came up with the second version. “ Sewing can be the identity of the Amis.” advised from tutor, and I like the idea, so I add knit wool elements in the card also, sewing the words “AMIS” on all of the cards to make it became a series of guidance card. And I add one more card to tell audiences the connection between the Amis and the three colors, patterns and sewing. Also, I make a poster to present my ideas in the clear way to reduce the chance that someone will not understand my ideas when audience are using pack during the workshop.

Project poster An experience pack



Final Version

The Target Audience: Teenagers (Aged 13-18), Ta i w a n r e s i d e n t s , w h o knows about the Amis but unfamiliar with. The Aim: To make my target audience have more understanding of the culture that constitutes Taiwan by exploring the roots of the land, and find a sense of identity with it. Main Messages: The Amis aboriginal group is a community that combined with the spirit they believed and unique traditional culture. Outcome A guide card. An experience pack with induction cards and sewing kits.

After the mock assessment, I got the feedback that my outcome’s tendency not clear enough, so I put the main time to improve the part in the final week. Also, the tutor said the poster is more like a presentation board, so I changed it to a guild card. Where it can be used? (Target Audience changed) I change the place where my outcome can be used, I keep the sewing workshop as the main idea, but move to the school from the huge cultural promotion activity or exhibition, and change the target audience in a lower ages group, the teenager. Because I think if people can get the information earlier, it will be better if one of my project aims is to find the sense of identity with the root that Taiwanese people graw up.

Teaching sewing skill in school for the teenagers. So, it can be a sewing lesson for the beginners, a material when teacher teaching the sewing skill, and there is a theme when you learn how to sew, the idea is based on the actual operation can be more impressive to audience to keep the information in mind, not only can learn the skill and get the information of the theme. Also, I changed the pack’s format, put the cards into the folder, it sorted the card’s order clearer, also I used knit wool to tie the pack to create the connection between the guide card and the Amis.

A guide card and a pack.

Open it.

Untie the knot.

Inside pages.

Needle,threads and the grid sheet.


IMAGES REFERENCE 1. Wikipedia. Available at: %97%8F 2. Song, S., C. [Online] Epochtimes website. Available at: https://www.theepochtimes. com/ 3. Wu, J., S. [Online] Available at: 4. Aboriginal Harvest Festival (2017). Available at: event/calendardetail/1485 5. Lee, C. [Online] Available at: 6.-16. Lee, L., C. [Online] Available at: 17.-24. Bank Of Culture. [Online]Available at: 25.-43 Lee, L., C. [Online] Available at: 44.-46. Bank Of Culture. [Online]Available at: 47. (2016)[Online]Available at: 48. Facebook(2018)[Online]Available at: 49.-50. Bank Of Culture. [Online]Available at: 51. [Online]Available at: story.jsp?id=223789 52.-59. Bank Of Culture. [Online]Available at: 6 0 . H u a n g , H . [ O n l i n e ] Av a i l a b l e a t : h tt p s : / / w w w. f l i c k r.c o m /p h o t o s / goldentime/41253826021 61. Lee, L., C. [Online] Available at: 62. [Online] Available at 63. Lee, L., C. [Online] Available at: 64. Aboriginal Harvest Festival (2017). Available at: event/calendardetail/1485 65. Lee, L., C. [Online] Available at: 66. Song, S., C. [Online] Epochtimes website. Available at: https://www.theepochtimes. com/ 67. Thomas, H. [Online] Available at: (activist) 68.-69. Vincent Design. Canadian geographic project. [Online] Available at: https:// 70.-72. TaiwanNUTC student.米好!Malahok project.[Online] Available at: https://www.

ESSEYS - Lee, L., C. (2016) A Study of Applying Indigenous People’s Totems to Paintings and to Cultural and Creative Products. [Online] Available at: https://hdl.handle. net/11296/66gwx7

BOOKS -Airey, D. (2019). Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding. Boston: Rockport.

Profile for Vivi Chen

The Amis Community : Graphic Identity Project Process Book  

My community in the project is The Aims, It is an aboriginal group in Taiwan. Project Intention : To make my target audience have more und...

The Amis Community : Graphic Identity Project Process Book  

My community in the project is The Aims, It is an aboriginal group in Taiwan. Project Intention : To make my target audience have more und...

Profile for weichen56